Postnatal Depression: Be gentle with yourself, you are doing the best you can - Guest Blog by Kayleigh Jenkins
Guest Blog by Kayleigh Jenkins
I think I have always and sadly always will struggle with my mental health- I don’t think it’s a thing that goes away permanently. It’s always there really!
As you all have read (in previous blogs) I lost my mother at 15, I know I May go on about this, but this I feel really made me who I am today!
It’s not all negative, I’m stronger for it, and I’m a pretty alright nurse for it!
The whole reason I am a nurse is watching my mothers nurses care for her (and me) so well that I knew I wanted to do the same when “I was older”.
Since loosing my mum I always knew I wanted a family! I always wanted to be a mum! I put it on an Eiffel Tower size pedestal! I was going to be the best mother, cook all my own food, iron every crease out of tiny baby grows, school uniforms, even their pants!
I’m shit at ironing!! 😂🤦🏼♀️
So when I didn’t fall into the motherly role, I took this hard....
Everyone goes on about this connection, that burst of love, that warm feeling, that gush of emotions after giving birth!
I had none of this! I felt ill, tired, drained, overwhelmed and scared to death!
My first born Ellis, is such a character, he’s funny, crazy, intelligent and knows too well how to push mammy’s buttons! But I wouldn’t change him for the world! He’s my first little boy, and I will do anything for him!
However after his traumatic birth (again something I had put up there on my Eiffel Tower-that It was going to be amazing, natural like the movies kinda births, which ohhh boy it wasn’t), I didn’t look down and gush with love-that took me a good while!
Which really until now I’ve always been afraid to say!
I think this confidence (to talk openly) comes with having baby number two and getting older! 🤦🏼♀️
The weeks ahead were so hard post birth, I didn’t “enjoy” my baby at all really! I worried myself sick about him! He wouldn’t feed for me, he was always sick, and he cried all the time!
I felt so alone and helpless and I felt like every other mum I saw was happy, coping and thriving!
They didn’t look like they had been hit by a bus?!! What was that all about!
So me... I kept quiet about how I felt! 🤫
( picture from: https://instagram.com/helenetheillustrator?igshid=1kmmhydrpkmdx)
Ellis was unwell for most of my maternity, in and out of hospital, with bronchiolitis, treated for sepsis, diagnosed with cows milk allergy and reflux and it all took its tole on me I think!
I would sit and wonder if this was normal!
I’d be at the doctors every week, literally screaming for help with him and I felt like they thought I was a paranoid “new mother” or “first time mother”.
I knew this wasn’t normaly I knew there was something wrong, and that’s why I always say a mothers instinct is 100% a thing
I remember a very pivotal point realising it wasn’t just me!
I took Ellis to a friends little girls party and he was due a feed there! Again as usual I attempted to feed him but he just cried and cried my friends looked on and I just shoved Ellis onto one of them and said “please you try because I can’t do this any more!”. They told me it wasn’t me and that there was something not right!
I’m sure it was that evening he turned blue and we ended up spending a week in hospital, with test after test! Finally I wasn’t going insane!
I think my husband knew I had postnatal depression even before I did! Even now when we talk he often comments how different I am with Oliver! Which is good, but I do feel guilty for not being the same with Ellis!
I don’t even know what the nail in the coffin was, all I can remember is going to baby clinic as normal to get Ellis weighed and the health visitor asking the usual question “everything going okay?” And I just said “no!” She just took me into a room and I burst out crying and I just couldn't stop!
She got me to fill in a questionnaire about how I was feeling at the time and I scored high! She came out weekly to see me after that!
My health visitor was amazing she really listened to me, she referred me to counselling, another thing that really helped, and my Counsellor decided that for a little while I needed the help of medication. Which now (excuse the pun) isn’t that hard of a pill to swallow, but back then- I didn’t know anyone on “anti-depressants” and I certainly didn’t want to be on them, but you know what they helped me! Going to the Gp was hard! Actually saying that my Counsellor thought I needed medication for depression! I’d just had a baby I should have been over the moon I thought! But getting help and talking really helped me realise that I wasn't alone and it's more common than I thought to feel this way!
This time with my second baby (Oliver) even though he was premature and in special care baby unit,which was very stressful! I have been much more relaxed- probably because I haven’t got the time to stress too much with two boys. 🤦🏼♀️😂
I have also learned that everyone is going through something! There’s so much pressure on mums these days, to look good post birth, to feed a certain way, to buy certain things, to mother a certain way!
Let’s get one thing straight motherhood is hard and there is no shame in saying it!
Actually screaming it...
MOTHERHOOD IS HARD WORK!!! 💪🏻💪🏻
We all struggle at some point, but the most positive and strong thing you can do, is ask for a little help, tell someone (a friend, fellow mamma, midwife, health visitor) “I’m struggling a bit” I’m sure it will make u feel so much better!
Mammas and fathers (dads struggle too)
You are not alone!
Remember people can easily smile through a lot of pain, check in on each other! 🥰😘
Some helpful websites:
(And as silly as this may sound but give Sarah turner (the unmumsymum) a follow and read her first book! It really did save me! I genuinely thought I was the only one feeling like it and she said it how it is!!